WELLINGTON — For the first time since 2016, the Labette County Grizzlies have lost back-to-back games as the Wellington Crusaders defeated the Grizzlies 33-26 in Week 6.
The Crusaders scored all five of their touchdowns on the ground. Wellington amassed 216 yards rushing on 42 carries in the game.
“They went to a power-I set on us,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “They were nickel-and-diming us, then they’d hit us for a big play. We didn’t play gap responsible tonight. But Wellington was a big, physical team. We couldn’t get stops consistently when we needed to.”
Labette County built up a 12-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to two touchdowns from Easton Dean — one on the ground and one through the air to Caleb Hentzen.
But a pair of interceptions compounded by dropped passes stymied the Grizzlies’ rhythm throughout the night.
“As far as scoring, we didn’t have a problem doing it,” Price said. “We got up on them 12-0 but fought back with a big kickoff return. Then we went stale. We had 10 drops today and they were all open receivers.”
Dean finished the game 16-of-31 passing for 361 yards with three touchdowns and the two picks. The Grizzlies were limited to under a hundred yards on the ground, tallying 97 on 27 carries as a team.
Dean led Labette County in rushing as well with 54 yards on 18 carries.
“You’ve got to throw the ball that many times when you can’t run the ball effectively,” Price said about the Grizzlies’ two turnovers. “That’s going to happen.”
Despite giving up a two-possession lead in the first half, Price still felt the Grizzlies improved after a Week 5 loss to Fort Scott.
“We got a lot better this week,” Price said. “We improved a bunch. But we’ve got to continue to do that and cut down on all of the mistakes we made.”
Fort Scott secured the outright Southeast Kansas League title on Friday night with a win over Chanute. That means Labette County is now exclusively playing for seeding in the 4A playoffs over the last two weeks of the regular season.
Wellington improved to 5-1 overall with the win, while Labette County dropped to .500 with a 3-3 record.
The Grizzlies face Ulysses (2-3) at home in Week 7.
“I’m pleased that we improved this week,” Price said. “We were a lot better than we’ve been. But I’m not a moral victory guy. That’s just not who I am. We’ve got to make big improvements. Ulysses is a big opponent, and we’ve got to do our best to win the last two games. We have to finish strong in order to host a playoff game.”
Wellington 33, Labette County 26
LC: 12 8 6 0 — 26
WE: 7 20 0 6 — 33
LC: Easton Dean 4-yard run, 4:34, 0-6
LC: Dean 35-yard pass to Caleb Hentzen, 5:06, 0-12
WE: 15-yard run, 0:01, 7-12
LC: Dean 65-yard pass to Kale Irwin, 10:54, 7-20
WE: 1-yard run, 9:03, 13-20
WE: 45-yard run, 6:36, 20-20
WE: 2-yard run, 4:24, 27-20
LC: Dean 12-yard pass to Hentzen, 9:00, 27-26
WE: 4-yard run, 10:45, 33-26